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子 implicitly implies the poem is addressing a man. The poem talks about how a lady misses a man. I just wonder if there is a corresponding word for Chinese. (i.e. what would you replace 子 by, if it were talking about a woman?

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Does a native speaker's opinion make sense? The first sentense doesn't mention the lover to be missed is a male person; 子 at here means "you". The reason why it's different than appearances in other references is it's making a "dual" with 我. This is common in 诗经, where this poem comes from. – Yvon Aug 13 '14 at 5:38
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The equivalent of for women is also .


Examples from Old Chinese texts:


  • The Works of Mencius: "Breaking into your landlord's house and harass the virgin girl gets you a wife; refrain from harassing and you don't get a wife. Does that mean you would do it?"


  • The Classic of Poetry: "Forests are green and flowers are red; a girl is marrying, and she'll make her new family happy."

In ancient Chinese, either meant "unmarried woman" or "you". The character for the latter usage became , but is still printed as in many modern publications of ancient works.

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In addition, "女子" means women and children in Classical Chinese. – wuyefeibao Aug 12 '14 at 17:52
I also want to point that the difference between 汝(less formal) and 子(more formal) is formality, not gender – 無色受想行識 Aug 12 '14 at 22:15

In general, it is 女.

There are books such as 女訓 (Advice for Women) and 烈女傳 (Biographies of Notable Women).

Also, 子 in 青青子衿 explicity referring to the lady's lover (where the whole sentence means her lover's green collar) , instead of referring to a man.

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子 also means son, does that implies the lady's lover is a male? – user3919509 Aug 12 '14 at 14:52
Depends on it's usage. For example, 女子 means girl but 兒子 means son – Alex Aug 12 '14 at 15:24
@user3919509 yes, it implicitly means male. 子 here implicitly means 'you' (male). I am not so sure if a substitution with ' 女' works here. – Lost1 Aug 12 '14 at 17:19

Re:...if it is talking about a woman?

Seems like this would be 女.

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@user3919509 yes, it implicitly means male. 子 here implicitly means 'you' (male). I am not so sure if a substitution with ' 女' works here. – Lost1 Aug 12 '14 at 17:20
@Lost1 - Sorry I don't follow your comment. It seems to be on the wrong post. But, unless I misunderstand your request, you are asking for the single character for a woman (not a male). If you need something different, please modify the original question for clarity. – Tommie C. Aug 12 '14 at 17:24

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